Object: The goal of this study was to assess the value of the Codman Hakim programmable valve to settings in the range of 30 to 200 mm H2O. This valve can be adjusted noninvasively for cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) drainage.
Methods: The authors conducted a single-center retrospective study of 583 patients (421 adults and 162 children) suffering from hydrocephalus of various causes (379 patients), normal-pressure hydrocephalus (174 patients), arachnoid cyst (14 patients), and pseudotumor cerebri (16 patients). In all cases a Codman Hakim programmable valve was implanted; in 82.8% of cases it was included during the patient's first shunt implantation. In 42.4% of the cases valve pressure adjustment was required at least once (mean number of adjustments 1.2, maximum 23). The patients' clinical status improved after 64.6% of pressure adjustments. Accidental resetting of opening pressure, other than that caused by magnetic resonance (MR) imaging, was uncommon. Because MR imaging caused resetting in 26.8% of cases in which it was used, it was deemed mandatory to obtain an x-ray film after MR imaging. Valve malfunction, blockage, or adjustment difficulties occurred in 2% of valves implanted, and nontraumatic subdural fluid collections were demonstrated in 5.1% of patients (13 of whom were treated by valve pressure adjustment alone). Five-year shunt survival was 53.1% for first-time shunt implantations. The shunt infection rate was 8.5% of valve implantations. Catheter-related complications and shunt-related infections were the main reasons for surgical revision and the major cause of shunt failure. At follow-up review, 97% of children and 90% of adults had improved.
Conclusions: Because one cannot know in advance which case will turn out to be complicated, the authors' preference is to use the Codman Hakim programmable valve for all conditions in which CSF should be drained.